In the United States, an estimated 30-40% of food produced each year is wasted, with most of this waste coming from households, food retailers, and food service businesses. To reduce the burden on Vermont’s only municipal landfill, the Vermont Legislature unanimously passed Act 148, a universal recycling and composting law, in 2012. Among other features, the law included a phased-in food waste ban that went into full effect on July 1, 2020. This ban requires everyone in Vermont – from residents to businesses and institutions – to keep their food waste out of the trash. To study the impact of the food waste ban, we conducted two statewide online surveys in 2021 and 2022: a general population survey and a food business survey. This policy report summarizes the findings of the surveys relevant to the food waste ban. Key findings include: 1. Following implementation of the ban, residents reported increasing the amount of food waste that they separate from their trash by 48% (from 48% to 71%). The leading disposal method for food waste is composting (46% of all food waste disposal). 2.Over a year after full implementation of the ban, about one quarter of respondents to the resident survey (26%)report feeling confused about its requirements. Oft hose who engaged in composting, one out of five (20%) find it to be hard or very hard. 3. Support for and knowledge of the food waste ban is high among Vermont’s food retail and food service professionals, and few continue to dump food waste in the trash. 4.However, over one-third of food retailers (37%), half of food service operators (53%) and two-fifths of those who run both types of businesses (40%) felt that compliance had been difficult. 5. The impacts of the ban differ for different types of food businesses, with food service businesses reporting more negative impacts on operating costs and revenue than food retailers.
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Belarmino, Emily H.; Ryan, Claire; Wang, Qingbin; Niles, Meredith T.; and Torness, Margaret, "Impact of Vermont's Food Waste Ban on Residents and Food Businesses" (2023). College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Faculty Publications. 198.